Menu Planting

One of the goals for our garden is to meet our defined needs of fresh, nutritious, organic produced food, for canning, pickling, freezing, and winter storage.  We also wanted to meet our food likes and prepare meals from the fresh foods and stored foods from the garden.  Hence the concept of Menu Planting.   We like beet greens, so we plant beets just for the greens two to three times through the season.  We love Hodge Podge so we plant green and yellow bush beans, peas, and an early potato.  We are very fond of a Grilled Caesar Salad. so we plant Romaine Lettuce.  We like eating roasted vegetables, grilled vegetables, love Italian food, enjoy stir fry and of course need salsa.  Menu planting is simply planting for the meals you enjoy.

You can menu plant easily in any garden. A common method is to use a raised bed for specific needs, such as a salad garden, salsa garden, Italian garden, etc. We will have some special beds, but for the most part, our menu planting is throughout the garden.

  1. Salsa Garden – Some vegetables to include in the salsa garden are tomatoes, tomatillos (need two plants for cross pollination), bell peppers, chile peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro.  Your personal taste will determine choices of peppers from mild through super hot varieties.  Use colour, such as red onion, different colour tomatoes and peppers.  Remember, if you want garlic, it is planted in the fall. Here is a sample salsa garden produced with the Garden Planner.

    Salsa Garden (Garden Planer)
    Salsa Garden (Garden Planer)

Fresh Garden Salsa
Use a medium sized bowl to combine
• 4 cups finely chopped tomatoes
• 1/2 cup minced onion
• 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
• 1 jalapeno minced or bell pepper for milder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
• 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
• 1 lime (juice and zest)
Mix well,  place in the refrigerator a few hours before serving. Enjoy in your garden!

Grilled Vegetables Kosher2. Grilled vegetables – Grilled veggies accompany pretty well all our BQ meals.  Our favourites include asparagus, green beans, carrots, corn, egg plant, onions, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green tomatoes, zucchini and Romaine.  Keep it simple, slice veggies to size, toss in olive oil, add salt and pepper and place on the heated grill.  Grill time varies.  General rule is the harder the vegetable, the more time on the grill.  Check for tenderness and nice grill marks, garnish with chopped basil, oregano, or rosemary and chow down.

Here is a grilled salad that we enjoy.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Ingredients (Serves 8)
Ciabatta Bread
8 – 10 slices pancetta
3 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus shaved Parmesan for serving
4 heads romaine hearts, sliced lengthwise in 1/2
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1. Preheat grill to high.
2. In a blender, combine the garlic, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Drizzle in 3/4 cup olive oil to emulsify. Add the Parmesan and pulse.
3. Cut ends off bread and save for another use. Cut bread into 16 slices and lightly brush both sides with Caesar dressing.
4. Grill bread for approx. 10 sec. per side or just long enough to toast and pick up grill marks. Remove from grill.
5. Heat pancetta for 10 sec. on each side, (use a pan on the grill)
6. Cut romaine in half length wise, drizzle romaine in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 2 minutes, until grill marks appear and the romaine becomes wilted.
7. On each of eight salad plates, arrange Romaine lettuce halves, pancetta, ciabatta toasts.
8. Drizzle with dressing, add pancetta, garnish with shaved Parmesan and serve.

3. The Italian Menu – Vegetables needed for our love of Italian food include tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, greens, beans, squash, zucchini, asparagus,   Required herbs are basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley.  Besides enjoying fresh ingredients in our Italian eating, we can tomatoes, tomato sauce, roasted peppers, and beans.  We also dry herbs and garlic for use through the winter.  If you are gardening with children, help them create a pizza garden and of course,  make a pizza from the bounty of their garden.

Here is a link to a sample Pizza Garden.

Plant and grow what your family likes to eat and plan your menus around the food you grow.

Herb garden, stir fry garden, pickling garden?

 

 

 

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Garden Experiments for 2015

Today we are experiencing a late winter snow storm and is a good time to do some more thinking and planning for the garden.  Each year we try new things.  If they work, we will continue to use them.  This year the plan is to try two new vegetables and three different growing methods.

We have chosen five gardening experiments for the 2015 season.

  1. Asparagus bed – We have put off this for about three years, so this year it is time.  Roots are already ordered so no turning back.  Two varieties we selected are, Jersey Giant and Purple Passion.  The roots are sent to us in the spring for planting time in our growing zone.
  2. Sweet Potatoes – We have chosen Covington, an early variety that will mature in short season areas. Unrooted vines are shipped in the late spring.  With proper care we will be enjoying sweet potato fries this fall.
  3. Straw Bale Garden – Plan to experiment with about four bales and try to grow a variety of vegetables. A wood crate structure will confine the sides of the four bales. The plan is to then use the Square Foot Garden Method to plant.  More information on Straw Bale Gardens can be found here.

    Vertical potatoes
    Vertical potatoes
  4. Vertical Potatoes Have always been intrigued by this method to grow potatoes.  If successful, we plan to build more towers and eliminate the rows of potatoes from the garden to free up space.
  5. Sawdust bed – We were traveling in south-west Nova Scotia when first observed huge vegetables growing in sawdust.  The key as we found out, was old sawdust.  Old was very old, like 25 years or more!  Well near the homestead are the remains of an old mill.  There has been no production for over 40 years and there is also a huge deposit of old sawdust.  Our plan is to check it out and seek permission from the land owner (if we can find them) and see if we can make our sawdust gardening experiment a reality.  We will build a raised bed and again use the SFG method to grow a variety of vegetables and flowers.  We are also going to use a mixture of sawdust and compost for our experiment.

You are invited to follow us as we update our experiments through the growing season.  We also welcome any advice you have on any of our gardening experiments. Please use the comment section on Facebook or on WordPress.

Come on spring!

Tom and Di

Garden Planning – Set Goals for Your Garden

As I plowed out the homestead today, I had the radio tuned to Stewart McLean, host of The Vinyl Café.  Today’s show focused on Daydreaming. (You can listen to Stewart here.)   Ann Murray sang “Daydream Believer”, and later, The Loving Spoonful joined in with “What a Day for a Daydream”. Those tunes took me back to the Sixties for a while and then the mind began to wander to warmer days and into the garden.  It was more of the “I wonder” kind of daydream.  The kind of thoughtful daydream that one can allow the mind to explore the “whys” of why you choose to do things.  Like, “Why have a garden?”

When we initially started our garden there was not a lot of thought or planning.  We jumped in and created a garden.  You may recall how the seed display at Home Depot became our plan. Since then we have put careful thought into what we wanted to achieve.  We thought out and wrote down goals for our gardens.  The four main goals dealt with production, learning, leisure, and diversity.

  1. Production – We wanted a garden to meet our defined needs. Fresh, nutritious, organic produced food, for canning, pickling, freezing, and winter storage.  And for fresh salads, beet greens, HodgePodge,
    Hodge Podge
    Hodge Podge

    strawberry pie, etc.

  2. Learning – We wanted to gain knowledge about gardening.  Experiment with raised rows, raised beds, square foot gardening, vertical gardening, and straw bale gardening.  Learn about composting, mulching, and soil development.
  3. Leisure – Create a relaxing environment.  A garden for reflection, observation, and of course daydreaming.  (our lower garden plan includes a hammock under the pergola!)
  4. Diversity – Our garden will include vegetables, fruit, flowers, and shrubs.  We will experiment with different varieties, colours, tastes, and textures.

Having these goals allows us to focus on what is important for us.  The goals are like the cornerstones for our garden planning and allow us to establish specific objectives each year.

Looking at the Upper Garden covered in two feet of snow it will be awhile before we will be digging in the soil. Maybe time to relax and daydream about this summer and our gardens.

What are your goals for this year’s garden?

Tom & Di